The Archived by Victoria Schwab

As this book wends its way into your psyche it seeds curiosity, fascination, discomfort, fear, and excitement. I read through dinner gushing to my partner how unique it is.

My brother likes to pontificate on how there are no new stories - just the same ones told over and over again. I suspect The Archived might give him cause to reevaluate. Certainly it abounds with all the classic literary elements: death, heroes, romance, betrayal, trickery, and magical objects. What makes this book unique is the world building. Maybe I am slightly biased about a book that is set in a library - but this is no ordinary library.

Imagine that when you die, you become a History, a record wherein your body becomes a vessel that holds all your memories. It is stored in a place called The Archives, a library that contains all the histories of all the people who ever lived in the world. Occasionally a History wakes up and wanders off into The Narrows, a space between our world and The Archive. Two groups are responsible for returning them. Keepers are trained to guide them back from the Narrows, and Crew are experienced Keepers working in teams to send them back should they escape to our world.

Mackenzie Bishop was trained by her grandfather, Da, to become a Keeper. Her first person narrative is interspersed with memories of him. The book starts with her family in the process of recovering from the accidental death of Ben, the youngest child. They have just moved into a new home in a new town to start over. 

Something is seriously wrong in the Coronado, the apartment building they move into. A string of murders took place in the past but were never solved. Decades of history have been removed from its records in the real world, and Histories in the Archive have been altered or wiped clean of memories. Something is also very wrong in The Archives as the numbers of Histories waking up increase.

I loved this book. It was a scary mystery, but not terrifying. It is the first in a series, but completely satisfying all by itself. I'll definitely get this one for our library.  I've already got readers lined up for it. 

I look forward to reading more by Victoria Schwab. I've just put The Near Witch by her on hold at the VPL.


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